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Monday, December 11, 2006

Still not old

Found on the internets...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Where's the door?

So the Iraq study group's report is out and it tells a lot about what we already know.
  • That despite what you hear on Fox News the situation is getting worse and not better.
  • That our current course of action is not working, and has not worked for some time.
  • And that our presence in Iraq is actually creating more problems than it solves.

We can now file these factiods with other nuggets that we have had the morbid opportunity to glean over the years such as...

  • Iraq was not behind 9/11, nor was it aligned with Al Queida.
  • Iraq was not hiding weapons of mass destruction.
  • Iraqis did not greet American troops as liberators. (The fact that they seriously believed this fairy tale before the war began shows how large the disconnect between this administration and reality is.)
  • And that Iraqi oil revenues would pay for the invasion and occupation

What we are left with is this: That Iraq was a nation living under the oppressive thumb of an egomanical military dictator who thought nothing of torturing and killing his own people. A dictator that would periodically rattle his swords to get attention from the rest of the world, but at the end of the day was only a threat to his own people, an oppressed and beleaguered people who simply did not have the means to overthrow him.

The idea that such a dictator could be replaced, and the people living in his prison of a country could once again be free and see daylight is indeed a noble one. In fact we can all rally around the image of a new Iraq, democratic and free. Standing as a beacon of hope and prosperity in the middle of a strife-torn region. Whose people now unshackled throw aside their ancient hatreds, heralding a middle eastern renaissance.

That, and I want a pony for Christmas.

Neither one is going to happen and we now need to seriously look at where we go from here. To date we have put in three and a half years, spent around 500 billion dollars, have sacrificed the lives of 3000 American men and women, and have nothing to show for it. What's worse if we redouble our efforts and commit another three and a half years, another 500 billion dollars and send another 3000 Americans marching to their deaths it won't change a goddamn thing. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, so what the hell are we doing!?!?

It has been said that there is no good option in Iraq, no "Peace with honor" to borrow a Vietnam-era phrase. That a civil war is not just some possibility but in fact is the reality, and that injecting ourselves into what is essentially a 1300-year old conflict is not sound policy on any level. The problems plaguing Iraq today are Iraqi problems and they need Iraqi solutions. The best thing we can do is set a timetable for our withdrawal, thus sending a message to the Iraqi government (such as it is) and to the Iraqi people that our patience is not infinite. If the will is there then perhaps there can rise up some semblance of governmental authority that can keep a lid on sectarian violence. And if not, then like everything else in the middle east it is simply Allah's will. And there is no amount of American money, equipment, or troops that can change it.

The truly sad part is that we knew this was going to happen even before the war began. The initial invasion was never the real hurdle, but rather the occupation and governing of a land where we did not understand the people the culture or the language. That was just simply beyond our means. The President's father knew this in 1991. He knew that despite Saddam's flaws he was better than the alternative, an alternative we are now stuck with. Never has the old adage about the devil you know being better than the devil you don't been more true. We should have seen this coming, in fact we did see this coming. Many tried to alert this administration about the danger it was careening blindly into, but alas they were soon replaced with sycophantic yes-men, who cherry picked facts that supported them and buried ones that didn't. They put their own ambitions above the needs of their country, and for that History will judge them harshly.

My favorite conservative political thinker is, by far, Patrick Buchanan. And I think that everyone should be required to read A Republic Not an Empire where he writes about how being an imperial power is antithetical to American ideals, and ultimately corrosive to our national soul. Now I think Paddy is pretty far off the reservation 95% of the time, but on this point he is dead on. The Iraq war is a clear picture of a misuse of power. Imagine what our place in the world would be if we had never embarked on this fools errand. We would still have the world's sympathy and support from 9/11. We would also have more leverage and capitol when it came to dealing with real threats to America from Iran and North Korea. It is even possible that without the specter of American troops on his border, Ahmedinawhocares may have never risen to power, and we could be dealing with a very different Iran today.

Imagine what we could have done with the 500 Billion dollars here at home. We could have saved social security, fixed health care, and sent anyone to college who wanted to go. If we had poured those resources into Afghanistan (a justified and necessary conflict) where would that place be now? And what if those 3000 dead, and 21,000 injured were well, whole, and never had to leave their families side? The woulda, shoulda, coulda over this conflict will endure for generations.

But none of that came to pass and we are where we are; stuck in yet another quagmire. From the Philippines to Vietnam our leaders have followed a great tradition of refusing to learn from previous generations, and getting us stuck in situations from which there is no graceful exit. The optimist in me hopes that this is it, that there will be no more of these foreign adventures. That we can withdrew our troops and reap the benifits of a peace dividend here at home. The pessimist in me can only imagine in what godforsaken hellhole the next generation will spin its wheels.


Today is December 7, Pearl Harbor day. Sixty-five years ago Japanese forces mounted a sneak attack on the U.S. Pacific fleet on the island of Oahu. We should take time to thank the rapidly dwindling number of those who served in the noble conflict that followed.

We should also be thankful that our current commander-in-chief was not in charge at the time. For in response to the Japanese attack he would have blown the shit out of Canada! On the other hand if Winnipeg went up in a blinding white flash would anyone have noticed?